Thursday, July 4, 2013

Knowing Your Role- The Service Dog In the Medical Setting

D. D, & Goodee offer this Blog in loving memory of our friend
 and Primary Care Physician
Dr John C. Schmidt
Dr Schmidt’s office was one of the first places “Team Goodee” got to take on the world and it became a favorite spot for us to just hang out and be us.
Dr Schmidt touched so many lives with the right medical diagnosis that seem to come from somewhere the rest of the medical community had not, or would not look. He was always there with a kind word and lots of humor. He will be greatly missed and never forgotten.
“You forgot some things mom!” Hello Goodee the Service Dog; what did I forget?”
“Well I remember lots of important stuff Doc said.”
“You probably do Goodee, what would you like to add.?””
“Let’s see
It’s o.k. To make a mess. We can clean it up later.” and
“You would think people could read the sign and stay the  _____ __  away from the Service Dog.”
“Oh yes Goodee that’s very important. Let’s not fill in the blanks for people; we will leave that to imagination.
I thought we would talk about what it’s like to go to the hospital or a doctor’s office as a Service Dog Team”
My mom recently had heart AFIB. problems and the medical visits we have made with her have been eye-opening. It occurs to me that the medical community is not always sure what their role should be beyond letting the dog and handler through the door.
In the hospital we had several staff members assume we were there as a therapy dog team and invite us into other patient rooms. We had to entertain questions before going in to see my mom. —usually about twenty or so.
Why do you have the dog? How long have you had her? What does the dog do for you?
We usually have rapid-fire responses ready but my focus had to be my mom and her current medical situation.  Team Goodee was not ready for “Show & Tell mode.”

Thankfully my mom was not in the hospital for long. That’s over life is normal—or so we thought.
My mom had to go to her heart specialist. –She had not been out of the house in several weeks. As we walked the hallway she moved slowly. It seemed obvious to me she could use at least an offer of help.
I moved up beside her and offered an arm. Goodee the Service Dog balanced me. I was able to balance my mom. I thought of a time a few short years ago I would not have been able to balance even myself. Now I am able to help my mom. This is great, I thought to myself
Suddenly as we opened a door the was a large noise “Swish” as first one door open and another then another. “DOG” –We hear 20 people say in unison. –

I glanced down the long hallway and realized these were not just any ordinary people. My eyes beheld a “sea” of hot pink medical scrubs.
One person went back and told another that there was a DOG in the office and then it seems the news spread to everyone.
Twenty people lined the hallway watching intently as Goodee helped my mom and I down the hallway and into an exam room.
We don’t go anywhere wanting to be the center of attention. “I wish someone would help my mom,” I thought.” “Today of all days can we just focus on something besides the dog?” “What exactly were these medical types doing before they dropped everything just to watch a dog go down a hallway?” “Are they billing other patients for their time while they watch us?”
My mind was distracted while my body moved down the hallway.
We made our way inside the exam room. “Oh well that’s over,” I thought.
My mom was having trouble with buttons.  One set of pink medical scrubs came in and smiled first at the dog then at me. She immediately began asking the top twenty questions. ---How? Why? How Long? She NEVER even looked at my mom, choosing instead to look at her chart.
I resisted the urge to say what was on my mind. Instead I did short replies to each question. I thought she would eventually notice that I was busy helping my mom with her clothing.  “NO,” “JUST STAND THERE TALKING” “What is this person’s job?, I thought as we finally finished with my mom’s clothing, the pink medical scrubs left without another word.
I know some Service Dog Teams print out FAQ’S; to date we have not done so. Every team has to what is right for them. We offer our Blog for people to ponder and share freely. We are encouraged by the number of people who know about Service Dogs and what should be done around them.
The medical setting is a place where Service Dog Teams go to get help for themselves (or someone else).

The focus should never be on “the dog.”--- The SERVICE DOG is a tool not a toy!
Service Dogs are not for the amusement and entertainment of others. The Service Dog is to serve as a medical device for someone in need.
As parting words for the medical community, Team  Goodee would like to say:
“If you can’t help, at least stay out of our way!”

Team Goodee would like to remind everyone that our friend Teddy Green is raising funds for his own Service Dog to keep him safe from Tree Nut Allergy.  “Gizmo” is currently in training and you can help with his tuition by making a donation directly to Angel Service Dogs via the link below:

We welcome feedback by email.
When you see us out and about we often must say,
“Not Now We Are Working!”
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DD & GOODEE the Service Do